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Old 05-29-2012, 04:55 AM   #1
Fipsy OP
form. gonescratchin
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Joined: Aug 2010
Location: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Oddometer: 490
Murray Sunset NP - Pooncarie Run - Part 1


After a short 3-day run up to Mount Bryan East, back in January, a group of us decided it was time to plan something longer. Seeing as Pooncarie has been a popular destination amongst some of the Oz Adv riders, its was decided on, with visit through the Murray-Sunset NP on the way, and returning via Lake Victoria, on the northern side of the Murray.

With the Darling River still breaching it's banks further north of Pooncarie, we figured it would be great to see this river running at capacity. Weather forecasts were predicting up to 40mm of rain in some of the areas we were to go through - so we were ready for the worst.

Our first rally point was Tailem Bend (myself, Allan, Dambo & Smifdog), before heading off to Loxton to meet up with Nick.

Strong, gusty cross-winds made the run up through Karoonda like we were in an arcade game, dodging tumbleweeds every few meters, some up to 2 meters across, and the dust brought visibility down to less than 200m.

We checked out a couple of camp sites at Loxton,

Allan was determined to dig in at this one for the night,

and ended up taking the easy option at the caravan park - the forecast 20+mm of rain would have made some spots into mud pits.

So after a spectacular sunset,

We headed down to the Loxton Hotel for dinner,

From Left: Me, Smithdog, Dambo, Allan, Nick)

After a very light overnight drizzle, the next morning we took the main road out to Bugle Hut, heading for the Murray-Sunset NP

Regrouping from time to time. So far only very light drizzles, but a persistent cross-wind.....

and made our way to the Carwarp Rd/Taperoo Track junction, where we turned north....

....where we were greeted with a narrow, mildly sandy, hard-packed dirt track. It looked like only a very light rain had come through, which did little more than keep down the surface dust. Most of this stretch up to the Sturt HWY is pretty easy going. There's a dogleg about half way up which comes up on you pretty fast, and then some winding sections for the last 8km or so.

After crossing over the Sturt HWY, the track gets sandier for a while, then opens up at the junction with the Old Mail Route Road. The tree-line ahead is the crossing at Lindsay Island, on the Linsday River.

We made our way up to the crossing for a cuppa, and spoke to the local rangers who said that the real reason access was closed, was because they had a planned wild pig shoot coming upon a day or so. They's already been across themselves a few times already, so it wasn't impassable.

...and here's ninja sensei Dambo, just finished his meditation, and about to instruct us on how to take someone out with a tin cup - Riddick-style!

....more coming.......

Fipsy screwed with this post 06-01-2012 at 10:28 PM Reason: Added trailer link
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Old 05-31-2012, 04:07 AM   #2
Fipsy OP
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Location: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Oddometer: 490
Murray Sunset NP - Pooncarie Run - Part 2

From Lindsay Island, we crossed the top of Lake Wallawalla, and had an easy dirt run on the Old Mail Route Road to Wentworth where we topped up fuel, filling some bladders, and emptying others!
(crossing Lake Wallawalla)

From Wentworth we high-tailed it to Pooncarie (130kms away), mindful of the numerous goats and sheep on the roads.
Once at Pooncarie, we set up camp down by the river, behind the golf course.

The JetBoil burners were a popular piece of kit amongst the crew.

Allan managed to put his tow rope to good use when we were collecting firewood

Some of us went up to the pub and grabbed a meal, whilst others stayed back and thinned down their panniers, eating their own grub. Finally settling down to a fire for the night, whilst we discussed the various possible fates of Shortybush who had left Adelaide at 5pm that arvo, and was heading up to join us that night.

Shortybush safely arrived about 11:30pm that night, ready to joins us for a day at Lake Mungo in the morning. We found out in the morning he nearly ended up in the river behind our campsite after he arrived, taking a leak without a torch, and not realising how abruptly the bank ended.
A quick look around, and we were amazed at how much water was flowing down the Darling at the moment. We knew that all roads north of Pooncarie were still closed, but weren't expecting this much water.......

What boat ramp?

See if you can spot the picnic table.....

THis one's easier to spot...

So the next morning, we made our way down the Top Hut road to Lake Mungo, regrouping a long the way. The road is a fairly main dirt one, mostly hard-packed, with sandy sections, lots of cattle grids, a few skippy's around, but generally rough going, but able to sit on around 90-100km/h for most of it.

We weren't sure what to expect at the entrance to Mungo, but were surprised to see almost a small museum there, with displays of some of the archaeological digs, and a fair bit of history.

And of course, Top Hut itself,

The 50km track around the 'lake', runs anti-clockwise, and after a false start finding the start of it, the first stop was the 'Walls of China'. You can only get up close to this by guided tour, which we skipped, but could still see the small eroded formations from the car park....

From the car park, the loop track starts in earnest;

Unfortunately, we were having too much fun on the loop track to stop and take photos, but have plenty of video footage which I'll upload shortly. Suffice to say, that the 3rd quarter of the loop track is by far the best section, with a sandy, winding track, weaving its way around the back of the lake through much of the scrub. It's a pity there isn't a short-cut straight through to this section of the track!

...more coming...

Fipsy screwed with this post 05-31-2012 at 04:34 AM
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Old 05-31-2012, 04:56 AM   #3
Fipsy OP
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Joined: Aug 2010
Location: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Oddometer: 490
Murray Sunset NP - Pooncarie Run - Part 3

After doing the Mungo loop, (it was nice not having to ride with all the gear on the bikes), we headed back to Pooncarie for dinner at the pub. But first we had to stop in and refuel at the Pub. Trevor, the pub owner, had graciously organised 3 jerry cans of fuel for us, as the general store wasn't open as yet (very seasonal, apparently), which would normally have some fuel in their tanks if they're open. So a big thankyou to Trevor for organising that.

The thought had occurred of planning a trip that involved camping at Mungo itself, just so we'd have more time to do the loop over-and-over.

We'd been lucky with the weather so far, considering some of the less optimistic forecasts (up to 40mm rain), we mostly had to contend with cool winds, very light drizzle on occasion, and almost always overcast. Typical daytime temps were around 15-17deg, and nights got down to about 7deg.

Next morning, it was time to start heading back. The plan was to head back down to Wentworth (on the dirt), and then follow the Main Wentworth Road along the north side of the Murray, passing under Lake Victoria, up to Chowilla, and down to Renmark.

So we packed up camp.......

and got mug shots of everyone and their ride......


Allan - mostly known for "....where are we?........and where did we just come from?......"


"Shortybush" (no-one is game to ask how he got that name!)

"gonescratchin" - me!

From here we made our way south out of town for another quick photo shoot,

and then headed west, crossing the bridge over the Darling, to then head south down to Wentworth,

Just regrouping on the way down to Wenty

The dirt roads heading down to Wenty are pretty easy going, though you do have to watch for stray cattle, sheep and goats. Yours truly nearly became the garnish in a steak sandwich at one point!
After a short stop at Wenty, we were soon on our way west on the Renmark Rd, then onto the Main Wentworth Rd, heading to Lake Victoria. This stretch was pretty rough road, often corrugated and not scenic at all, though you can keep a descent pace up (100km/h). We did spot quite a few emus along this stretch.

Finally we got to Lake Victoria, which made this leg of the trip worthwhile.

When we saw this sign, the first thing we all thought was "Why?". Sure it was a nice setting, but ....... I don't think so.

From there we continued west, turning down the lesser used Old Wentworth Road, only to find out why it was 'lesser used' - it stopped dead at private property gate which made it pretty clear we were;t welcome. So we headed back to the junction where Shortybush had realised he'd lost one of his screen adjusters - so out came the cable ties!

Continuing on, we ended up rejoining the Old Wentworth Road just near the border, and continued on into Chowilla where we passed the turn-off which leads up towards Danngali CP where we had originally planned to stay the last night.

Along this section, almost all the way to the bitumen at Renmark, the road had recently been graded, leaving a 2in crust of soft dirt & rubble, leaving the road very squirmy. The bigger bikes ended up setting a faster pace to keep more stable (about 90km/h), however any emergency braking would have been futile.

Finally we got into Renmark where we farewelled Smifdog, Dambo and Nick.
By the time we'd all said our good-byes, it was close to 4:30, so Allan ("Yes Allan, this really IS Renmark!!", Shortybush and myself decided to stay in town, grab a shower, and head off to rejoin the Taperoo track off the Sturt hwy first thing in the morning.
That night in Renmark turned out to be our coldest night of the whole trip, getting down to 3 or 4 deg.
Camp visitor,

So the next morning, we made an early start, and got onto the Taperoo track in good time, and made our way back down to the junction,

And then there were 3

We figured it would be great to stop out here for a couple of nights, with a day to check out all the tracks in the area. Definitely a trip worth planning.

A few km's along the road, heading towards Loxton, Shortybush decided that one incident to loosen off his windscreen wasn't enough - so he decided to see if he could loosen it up some more, and have a little lie down whilst he was at it.

So from there it was an easy run back into Loxton, and then home. No dust storms or tumbleweeds this time. I think most of us were all busy planning our next few trips during the boring ride home.
Can't wait till next time.....

Over 'n' out.

Fipsy screwed with this post 05-31-2012 at 10:07 PM
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Old 06-01-2012, 03:01 AM   #4
The Cougar
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Nice report and pics

Well done GS, We also got caught out on the Old Wentworth Rd sign and had to back track (whay can't they have a signe at the turn off??).

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-01-2012, 03:07 AM   #5
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Great report to get us enthusiastic about heading back into that area, thanks for sharing.

Especially the action bits

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Old 06-01-2012, 03:11 AM   #6
Miss Jane
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Great country through there eh. Love it.

Rode the Old Old Wentworth Rd from the west, we were a long way in so kept going as fuel and time were against us - it was great fun.

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Old 06-01-2012, 04:11 AM   #7
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Well done guys! You dodged the weather and by the look of it saw the Darling in its prime.

Great report
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